EUGENE -- Never let it be said that players are the only people who can use the tired and dreary cliché, I just want whats best for the team.
When asked how he felt about taking over the play-calling duties in his first year as Oregons offensive coordinator, Scott Frost went for it, too.
I was excited, but I just want whats best for the team, Frost said. When Mark (Helfrich) asked me about it, thats what I said. I dont care who calls the plays. I dont care if someone in the 52nd row of the stadium calls the plays as long as it gives us the best chance of winning.
Frost, formerly the receivers coach, has been using fall camp to prepare himself for having to make play calls during games.
You prepare everyday, Frost said. When youre scripting plays and deciding how to run practice, theres no better preparation than that.
Frost will have plenty of talent to work with this season.
Everything in Oregons offense will begin with quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota.
Hes bigger, stronger and faster, Frost said. He has a better control of the offense and a better grasp of it and, like Ive said 100 times, we want him to be even more of a playmaker this year. Were expecting him to do big things.
Frost said that does not mean Oregon will necessarily throw the ball more, as has been speculated.
If theres been talk of us throwing the ball more, it wasnt from the coaching staff or anybody on the team, Frost says. Thats speculation. Were going to do whatever gives us the best chance to win. Marcus Mariota is a very talented passer, so him throwing the ball gives us a chance to win, but were certainly not going to make wholesale changes.
Helfrich, Oregons former offense coach and first-year head coach, echoed Frost.
We want to score, Helfrich said. We dont care how, we dont care who has it in the end zone as long as its our guy. To a certain extent, were going to do our deal. To a certain extent, were going to take what the defense, I dont want to say dictates, but how they make us adjust. We havent sat down and said, We need to throw it 66 percent of the time or anything like that.'
Of course, Oregon has become renowned for being tightlipped about anything that could possibly give an opponent an advantage. So even if the Ducks are planning on throwing the ball more, it would make sense for the coaches to deny it.
When Mariota does drop back to pass, he will have several playmakers to choose from.
Weve got a deep group of receivers, Frost said. Weve got a bunch of experience there. When Josh Huff is healthy, hes a great playmaker for us. Bralon Addison has had a great camp, Daryl Hawkins has had a great camp, Keanon Lowe has had a great camp. Were still waiting for a couple of the young guys to step up and be the fifth guy or the sixth guy and show they can be playmakers.
Mariota can also get the ball to tight end Colt Lyerla, one of the highest-rated tight ends in the nation.
Colt can do any number of things when hes around and healthy and playing well, Frost said. Theres not too many guys like him. Were anxious to get him involved.
The biggest hole the offense has to fill this season is running back after the departure of Kenjon Barner. Frost disagreed with the notion that running back is a question mark, though.
I dont really see running back as a question mark, he said. Theres not a team in our conference and hardly a team in the country that wouldnt trade for our running backs. Byron Marshall has had an unbelievable camp, and we dont feel like theres another player in the country like DeAnthony (Thomas).
The Ducks' running backs will have three returning starters to block for them: center Hroniss Grasu and tackles Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone. Offensive guard is still up in the air, though.
The three returning starters we have, were counting on those guys, Frost said. Hroniss has been a bell cow for us for two years, and hes got to be a leader again. The two tackles, as they keep working and improving, are really good players in our offense. Weve had some good guard play. I dont think its completely decided who are going to be our two guards yet, but were encouraged by what were seeing.
Even with all the talent he has to work with, there will be enormous pressure for Frost to fill the play-calling role vacated by former coach Chip Kelly when he left Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles.
As with Helfrich, Frost is not eager to try to put his own stamp on the Ducks' offense. Rather, he would simply like to continue what Kelly has done.
Chip and Mark collaborated on the play-calling last year, and it will be Mark and I collaborating this year, Frost said. And if fans cant tell the difference between last year and this year, were probably doing pretty well.